Transforming the Ivory Tower

Models for Gender Equality and Social Justice


This edited volume is centred on transformation in teaching, research, professional and community practice aimed at addressing race and gender disparities with a focus on tackling whiteness as a recurrent theme in Inside the Ivory Tower (IT1). This research is unique in providing case studies that highlight self-defined and negotiated pathways for race and gender equality developed by Black women and women of colour as change makers. It documents how the contributors navigate challenging spaces to create meaningful roles that contribute to social justice.

This volume draws on critical race theory, Black Feminism and participatory witnessing – an alternative research approach where women bear testimony, facilitating self-representation and co-theorising with the author. It brings new intersectional voices to the Ivory Tower project from the USA, Canada and Australia and from LGBTQ perspectives, whilst maintaining continuity in highlighting the transformative work of some of the UK contributors to IT1.

This research is significant in highlighting the often-unacknowledged contributions to the knowledge economy and wider society to advance race and gender equality and the narratives privilege the lived experience, intellectual, social and cultural capital of women of colour.




‘This ground-breaking collection illuminates Black women’s perspectives on how they navigate the intersections of whiteness and masculinities in challenging and hostile university environments and transform the ‘Ivory Tower’  imagining teaching, research and community engagement in new ways. It offers powerful and internationally diverse autoethnographic and theoretical insights into how it is possible collaboratively to produce meaningful change in the direction of social justice. In a period marked by burgeoning recognition of how universities perpetuate social inequalities, it constitutes an invaluable resource.’

Ann Phoenix, Professor of Psychosocial Studies, Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education


‘Drawing on the lived experiences of Black women at the forefront of transforming academic practice, Transforming the Ivory Tower suggests that decolonisation and privilege are central in the pursuit for social justice in higher education and beyond. Deborah Gabriel’s important collection exposes the deeply entrenched inequalities in academia, whilst also serving as a critical source of inspiration and solidarity.’

Sarita Malik, Professor of Media, Culture and Communications at Brunel University 

“Transforming the Ivory Tower is  an essential and accessible read for scholars, activists and anyone who operates at a grassroots level, who seeks to effect critical change in their area of expertise.”

William Henry, Professor of Criminology & Sociology, University of West London






“Woven through this collection are powerful tales of action in University settings to challenge and disrupt the comfortable world of the maintenance and preservation of a potent regime of cultural power…Yet through it all I was reminded that I’m not the primary audience – a late middle aged white bloke with the word ‘professor’ in a title (even if is an honorary title, and associate, not full). This is primarily aimed at members of the academic community whom that community excludes from power and full membership, whose work grounded in their worlds is not recognised as of standing in that academic world, and whose attempts to challenge and disrupt academia exacerbates their marginalisation…Highly recommended. (read the rest on Goodreads)

“Transforming the Ivory Tower provides a timely contribution to teaching, research, community and practice within Higher Education. The book presents the voices from across the academic landscape and continues to celebrate our sisters from around the world past and present.” (read on

“In the three year period, since they first spoke truth to power about the institutional racism and systemic inequalities which abound in the corridors and campuses of academic institutions across the UK, IT2 showcases their amazing efforts and successes, but also the work still to be done, if meaningful and lasting change is to be achieved.” (by competition winner Sheila Freeman)

View Table of Contents HERE

Editor: Dr Deborah Gabriel

Contributors (Writers): 

Dr Deborah N Brewis

Dr Sadhvi Dar

Dr Angela Martinez Dy

Dr Deborah Gabriel

Prof William Lez Henry (foreword)

Dr Ima Jackson

Dr Josephine Kwhali

Dr Helena Liu

Dr Elizabeth Opara

Dr Udeni Salmon

Contributors (Featured): 

Virginia Cumberbatch

Aisha Richards

Prof. Shirley Anne Tate

Publisher: UCL Press

Publication Date: 22nd June 2020


978-1-85856-677-1 (paperback)

978-1-85856-913-0 (PDF eBook)

978-1-85856-914-7 (ePub eBook)

978-1-85856-915-4 (Kindle eBook